Thursday, March 31, 2011

Greenbelt Dragon (by moonlight)

Greenbelt Dragon by Moonlight
March 2011

This was an iPhone image. Time to drag out the Canon & Tripod.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Telepathy Freakout

When discussing the subject matter with neophytes or others unaccustomed to swimming in its waters, the boundaries of acceptable conversation vary enormously, and predicting individual reactions can be highly challenging. Mere mention of UFOs, for some, is verboten.  Many of you know this all too well. The awkward silence. The distant look. The pupil dilation. The conspicuous change of topic. Please, can we talk about something else? For GOD'S SAKE.  It's all in the eyes.

Was it something I said? If so, the conversation probably turned to telepathy.

Mind to mind.

Soul to soul.

The exchange.

The Universal Language.

Telepathy skeeves people out. Especially those who prefer their information filtered through however many sources it takes to maintain their existing paradigm. In other words, most people. It's acceptable to talk about the aunt who calls you on the phone when you think about her, or the oddly intuitive old soul neighbor who seems to magically appear when you're in a jam. Introduce a UFO encounter into that conversation and watch as your guest suddenly discovers they're late for an appointment.

Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, the subject of telepathy - commonly referred to as ESP, or, extrasensory perception - generated a great deal of public interest, including mine, that extended far beyond the aging spiritualists, tripping mystics, incipient New Agers and psychic spies rumored to serve The Cold War. Society today, beyond the insular warm fuzzies of The New Age Ghetto, seems more suspicious and fearful of psychic phenomena than it was in my childhood and early youth.

Few of my telepathic experiences translate into simple anecdotes, in part because psychic communication may or may not be expressed in linguistic terms. Often, it isn't. The simplest type of telepathic experience to describe in terms of interactions with cosmological intelligence involves what I call choreographed sightings, a form of contact in which a person is telepathically influenced to either go or look outside to witness a UFO.

The majority of my most strikingly unambiguous UFO sightings - a fireball, boomerang, black rectangle and several others - have been choreographed events.

Hear that? It's the shriek and cry of alien mind control!, programmed!, hybrid! belched from abduction porn and scary monster quarters, where wide-eyed residents, like producers of bad movies and worse television, perpetually write and rewrite the same script of human/alien interactions with Tarantino-esque S&M flair, hackneyed police procedural cliches, wise protagonists and gratuitously morbid plot points.

I can't win with that crowd, and don't care to.  My horror story is not some campfire yarn about a lock of hair liberated from the clutches of darkness. It is an epic tale of war, brutality and deprivation, generation after generation, playing out in the full light of day, every day, as told by sun-bleached bones pulverized into bricks and stacked high to form the regal facades of Church and State.  Nobody's buyin'.  The narrative - unless and until we decide to look at it, listen to it and write it differently - dumbly plods through the overgrown hedges and foggy swamps of unfounded and tragically misplaced optimism, impervious to pretty thoughts and disapproving jeers assembled over lifetimes of denial. I didn't like the ending.

The cooperative context of my experiences cannot be overstated: I explicitly requested to see as much as ^They were willing to show me, preferably in a fully conscious state. As a neophyte, I had no idea whether such engagement, from a practical standpoint, was even possible. I knew nothing - and I do mean nothing - about other people attempting communication with cosmological intelligences, as I had deliberately confined my UFO investigation, as much as possible, to examining photographs and reading eyewitness accounts of sightings. It would be another two years before I could say ufology without blushing and using air quotes.

The shock of reciprocal engagement, initially in the form of close proximity fly-by's at night while sitting in my semi-rural back yard, was mitigated by the beautifully precise, restrained and highly structured manner in which ^They demonstrated various aspects of the phenomena, providing only as much information as I could absorb and synthesize at any given time.

Events featuring telepathic connection were fairly frequent, often awe-inspiring and integral to the paradigm shift I embarked upon in 2008. ^They took great care to avoid freaking me out, lest my mind be blown. No small accomplishment, though it's a given some readers will believe ^They or I, jointly or separately, failed in that regard. I did go to the brink once or twice. Or so. Think you can do better when your model of reality collapses? I'll take that bet, and hope to lose, while harboring the assumption you haven't adequately contemplated the definition and implications of the concept, model of reality. I was glad - make that elated - to see my old model of reality go, but, even in the best of circumstances, navigating a paradigm shift is intense and draws on one's whole catalogue of life lessons, be it volumes or a thin brochure.

I am left to surmise that people who reflexively conclude I've been chipped! tend to view telepathy as an unnatural force.  It isn't.

Is there no place to enjoy my thoughts in privacy?
, asks the offended party.

Seriously?  Enjoy your thoughts?  I'll have what you're havin'.  But just a shot or two.

Even if we didn't live in The Age of Intellectual Property, free to contemplate freedom beneath an infinite canopy of surveillance cameras, the answer would still be no. Whether or not there is always someone or something eavesdropping on us, I have no way of knowing, but the ability to tune in  by the skilled telepath, human or otherwise, - and, to a lesser extent and in different fashion, the skilled technician-bureaucrat, most likely human - is, by my estimation, a constant.

Telepathic interactions other than the choreographed sighting are considerably more challenging to discuss publicly. Once telepathy migrates from theoretical to actual - having been validated through experiences which strongly appear to be structured, in part, for that specific reason - mediumship becomes difficult to casually and categorically dismiss as an exercise in self-indulgent psychowankery.

Good old discernment.  It works us to death, doesn't it? The word channeling is only slightly more prejudicial than it is broad, and I will readily admit to thinking of it skeptically and, often, cynically, as I do with all manner of public performance, including my own.

When The Source of my Contact experiences wishes to communicate directly with individuals, recruiting a channeler as a cipher-conduit impresses me as wholly unnecessary.  I find it a little sad, if sadly understandable, that people either (a.) think so highly, or, perhaps, lowly of themselves as to believe that would be their primary role in this life, or (b.) lacks confidence in their ability to receive or discern a direct message from a highly evolved cosmological entity.  Having said that, I've always been a teach a person how to fish type, so I can only ask of mediums, and those who consult them, that they not take my general wariness as a personal insult.

I often find myself relearning the value of thinking in terms of inclusive possibilities rather than exclusive probabilities, the former requiring humility (hence, the relearning), the latter not. Hey, neighbor. Have you heard The Good News? There's a needle in the haystack! Here, as everywhere, the delusional and fraudulent tempt me toward intolerance, but I am, at least, discriminating when it comes to throwing out the channel babies with the bathwater.

The question of whether dreamscape encounters are of a telepathic nature is probably best answered by degree. No one I know understands dreams or telepathy well enough to define the nature of whatever overlay, if any, they may share, but I've long had reasons (since childhood) for believing there exists some kind of relationship between them. Whatever neurological processes converge to form dreamscape experiences, this does not mean the dreamscape is always or solely comprised of neurological processes.  That's a different essay.

So, why would ^They cultivate an acute awareness of psychic phenomena among experiencers?  Theories, as always, abound.

Might popular awareness leading to the eventual acceptance of telepathy as a scientifically valid and natural phenomenon may pose an intrinsic threat to the dominant socioeconomic global paradigm (you know, the one killing the planet)?  Humanity's self-exploitation - our cannibalism - is driven by secrecy in the service of social advantage. You may recognize this force by its other name, politics. Nothing noble there, even if you put an exo- in front of it. Telepathy undermines individual and collective secrecy. For the citizen whose State relies on vaults of secrets and lies for its very existence, direct knowledge - as opposed to the official variety, which isn't knowledge at all - is the ultimate sedition.

Skating on the outer limits of speculation, I wonder if perhaps development of humankind's psychic intelligence has been impeded by social and/or environmental factors, which may partially account for our consistently poor-to-nonexistent judgment in critical matters affecting the health and well-being of planetary life. Nuclear energy springs to mind, as does the enterprise of permanent war and the ecocidal pyramid scheme of turbocapitalism that spawned and sustains humanity's obscenely wasteful resource-dependent consumer culture. These, of course, are all different faces of the same menace.  It appears  we are advanced enough to build and ride a bicycle, but not so bright as to avoid pedaling over a cliff.

Whatever ^Their motivations, it would not be absurd to entertain the rather mundane proposition that grownup civilizations possess grownup powers of Consciousness including telepathy. If so, what may be thought of as advanced lessons in telepathy to contactee-experiencers could be interpreted as entirely consistent with a familial or communal relationship between us and ^Them.

Based on my own experiences, my operating assumption is those who are willing to actively cultivate their own perceptual and analytical skills have prospective allies up there capable of providing, and willing to provide, assistance to those ends.

And, yes, it is amazing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Beachcombers

Experience transforms The Theoretical to The Actual.

If The Theoretical instills genuine life-threatening fear, people will not seek experiences that could make it manifest into The Actual.

The fear itself may or may not be justified, but, in terms of how it affects the experiences we seek or avoid, it doesn't really matter.

Thrillseekers - whether they're screaming on an amusement park ride or feeling their own elevated heart rate while 'ghost hunting' in a haunted house or - do these things to simulate fear for the body/mind adrenaline rush. The thrillseekers' activities have a beginning, a middle and an end, and, once they're over, everyone fully expects to go back to wherever they came from in the same condition as they started out. That's the paranormal in a nutshell. It's entertainment. A scary movie. A freak show.

Ufology, for the vast majority who explore the subject, is no different. People drawn to it are like children who play all day on the the beach without ever stepping foot in the water because, well, you know, there's an undertow out there, and sharks and barracuda and stinging jellyfish. It never occurs to them they're sharing a beach with predators.

They'll never see living coral or a stealthy flounder half-buried in the sand or the octopus with its tentacles in a conch or darting schools of colorful fish - all just below the surface of the scary, scary water.

The beach bound boy and girl will never be eaten by sharks. Yet, they remain mortal and, as such, will die without ever seeing these things for themselves. Whatever they may see in a digital image will never convey the wonder, excitement and insights emanating from direct experience. Like all captives of their own fear, they prefer the sign to the thing signified, and, in fact, are incapable of recognizing, much less appreciating, the distinction.

We who seek direct experience - seeing and feeling, not through others, but with our own senses - we jump into the water to see what we can find. When we return to shore - changed by the experience - we beckon others to follow. "Come see for yourselves!" But we are condemned, often harshly and cruelly, by all who refuse. Reckless idiots! Liars! Crazies! We endure the accusations and insults and cutting remarks because there will always be those who prefer Not Knowing over Knowing; Arrogance over Humility; Fear over Wonder.

The interested parties who confine themselves to the beach - the boy and the girl too afraid to venture into the water - mature into adults who dutifully study the sand and waves, broken chunks of coral, little seashells and their fragments, and everything dead and dying that washes ashore. They stroke their chins and devise elaborate theories to explain the aberrant psychology of the fools who swim in the dangerous sea and return to share their experiences with people who demand we do neither. And the interested parties make boldly waffling statements about what it all signifies, without ever saying anything at all.

That's what it's like from this side, my friends and adversaries. And it still isn't enough to make me wish I'd stayed on the beach.

Come on in.

The water is awesome.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Missing The Point on Missing Time

I enjoy reading the amusing musings of Billy Cox.  His wit, candor and aversion to the platitudinous fawning that characterizes this area of interest are much appreciated by this outsider, though the 'tude wouldn't amount to much without his skillful writing.   Even the name of his blog, De Void, with its sad little tragicomic tag line, The mainstream media's lonely UFO blog, brings relief to my furrowed brow.  

Given the scarcity of humor surrounding the subject matter, De Void readers often confuse his irreverence for contemptuous disregard.  I run into that myself.  Frequently.  Sharing and caring with a largely humorless, thin-skinned demographic can be a challenge.

Cox ruffled a few feathers with his latest, GOING PUBLIC WITH MISSING TIME, in which he gives the Reader's Digest version of The Phoenix Lights and, more specifically, Lynne Kitei's "astonishing claim that she may have documented a missing-time episode with photographs."  Responding to critics of the post, Cox states:
March 12th, 2011 10:21 pm
I’m not disputing the events over Phoenix on 3/13/97. If we accept the reality of UFOs – whatever they are, and we must, if we’re paying attention – then our understanding of physics is obsolete. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s ET or inter-dimensional or Jungian projections or something else. What it means is that anything is possible, literally, the whole table’s in play, everything. But where do those possibilities end? After awhile, it’s like running a faucet over a glass. My storage capacity is finite; I’ve reached a saturation point. Call it a failure of the imagination. [emphasis mine ~Arvin] Perhaps if more researchers were a bit more adventuresome and courageous, they could coax me deeper into the odyssey. I applaud the few who make the effort.
The portion of the comment I emphasized in red italics is exactly what makes personal disclosure exceptionally difficult.  Billy's saturation point, having been reached, precludes processing additional information unless and until he's willing to take a few items out of his strained luggage.  Maybe more than a few items. 

Yes, the whole table is in play.  Everything.

During 1960's and early 70's, Americans trying to balance their distaste for hippies with their own reservations about the Vietnam War police action adopted the axiom "My country, right or wrong."  Updated forty years later - in a much broader context - it's "Consensus Reality, right or wrong."

No researcher, regardless of how adventuresome and courageous, can coax anyone "deeper into the odyssey" without their consent.  UFO researchers - at least, the ones who present themselves as experts and are looked upon as such - do tend to be staid.  If Nick Pope has ever said anything interesting or insightful, it slipped by me.  But his brand sells. Billy Cox and a lot of other people (you, perhaps?) would be better served by becoming their own researchers instead of depending on others to coax them out of what amounts to a self-imposed, and strictly policed, state of ignorance.

Truly amazing things happen when people stop expecting profound insight from vicarious experience and hand-me-down theories, and reject the authoritarian model of Researcher/Subject/Interested Party.

The rigid institutional, social and personal enforcement of fundamentally flawed consensus-based reality paradigms can only have one result: collective retardation and stasis.  Many refer to this as "stability" and they would rather kill and die than part with it.  If you live your life on autopilot, sooner or later, you're going to fly into a mountain.  The human race is flying straight into a mountain.

Let's set aside Lynne Kitei's "astonishing claim that she may have documented a missing-time episode with photographs."

If you - yes, you - captured photographs of UFOs during an unambiguous missing time event, would you step forward with that information - knowing full well the kind of criticism and scrutiny doing so would invite?  How would you present that information? What is gained by stepping into the harsh light and cacophonous din of the pitchfork & torch-wielding ufology mob?  And what is lost by declining to do so?

These are not academic questions for me, and when I pose them to other people, the silence is deafening.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Conference That Won't Go Away

The arbitrary nature of comment moderation on UFO websites is often a curious thing.  Especially when the commenter - in this case, yours truly - isn't a serial author, self-proclaimed authority or servile conference monkey heaping praise on the post du jour.  God forbid I comment anywhere else using a URL to a pertinent post on this blog.
Arvin Hill says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Okay, let me try this once again.

Hussein’s comment provides a refreshing contrast to the myopic, obsequious cheerleading that has surrounded the Global Competitiveness Conference since its announcement.

The lack of critical commentary on this and other UFO websites reflects a shocking lack of awareness regarding the dynamics of power on this planet – who wields it and to what ends. “Global competitiveness” is THE paradigm in a which a tiny minority – the ones with the most money – is able to justify the relentless exploitation of humanity and the environment.

It is difficult to understand how it is people who decry “The Powers That Be” with such frequency and volume as those in ufology – and exopolitics, in particular – can be so blinded by celebrity and the prospect of validation.

Apparently, some public figures, and the institutions they serve, are simply above reproach in “respectable” public venues.
Maybe I'll have better luck this time than I did on the first attempt to comment on this story.   That one disappeared into the moderation ether.  Considering it included neither profanity nor a hyperlink to my Zazzle store, I'm starting to second guess my earlier praise for Open Minds Magazine - not to mention my subscription.  Here's hoping I won't have to put on my Toady Hat just to offer a comment there.

Celebrity worship is one of the more unpalatable aspects of the whole paranormal/UFO subject.  Anyone who thinks Jacques Vallee, Michio Kaku, Nick Pope, Stan Friedman, et al should be exempt from public criticism is in the bottom of a very deep well.  UFO aficionados who prefer vicarious experience to the real thing, like cats that eat and puke the same hairballs, again and again and again, are depressingly content to lap up whatever is being dished out at the ufology cafeteria.

Tick Tock

One night while sleeping in my bed
I had a beautiful dream
That all the people of the world got together
On the same wavelength
And began helping one another
Now in this dream universal love was the theme of the day
Peace and understanding and it happened this way

The sick, the hungry, had smiles on their faces
The tired and the homeless had family all around
The streets and the cities were all beautiful places
And the walls came tumblin' down

People of the world all had it together
Had it together for the boys and the girls
And the children of the world look forward to a future

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock people
Time's tickin' away
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock people
Time's tickin' away

I had a vision of blue skies from sea to shining sea
All the trees in the forest stood strong and tall again
Everything was clean and pretty and safe for you and me
The worst of enemies became the best of friends

People of the world all had it together
Had it together for the boys and the girls
And the children of the world look forward to a future

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock people
Time's tickin' away
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock people
Time's tickin' away

Remember that, remember that
Remember that, remember that

People of the world all had it together
Had it together for the boys and the girls
And the children of the world look forward to a future

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock people
Time's tickin' away
Remeber that
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock people
Time's tickin' away


Apparently, there are no crimes or offenses so horrendous people will assume responsibility for the fate of this planet. It's so much easier to casually defer to our self-interested global elite and submit to the propaganda which tells us, over and over, all this will work itself out. It plays into our denial, a sugar pill that hastens our demise.

No, it will not work itself out, my friends. We are writing our own epitaph, bit by bit, faster and faster, and the legacy we create each day is a sorry, shameful one, indeed.

It was events like these that prompted me to actively pursue Contact. Not to seek rescue or even intervention, but just to say "I'm so very sorry. With all this potential, the human race has consistently and tragically chosen to shroud itself in ignorance and wage war on each other and the planet that gives us life." Some might call that repenting.

No matter how much joy I've taken from the positive Contact experiences that promptly followed, and continue still, I live each and every day with a deep, agonizing sense of sadness and remorse at the sorry state of affairs in this world.

So much potential. Wasted.

Humanity is steeped in denial. The snake eats it tail and the circle of planetary life constricts tighter and smaller.  Every day we deny who we are now, who we could be now, what might have been now, and all that could be tomorrow.

The Snake begins feasting on its own head.  And it is horrible.

Tick Tock, people.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beware The Spoilers!

Sneering over nomenclature ascribed to features associated with UFO phenomena, is très chic among the many obtuse loudmouths who love to display their brilliance by habitually condeming the New Age know-nothings, Jesus Freaks, ETH proponents, end-timers, spiritual frauds, channelers, casual witnesses, contactees, abductees, book-shilling conference monkeys (except themselves) and assorted rank amateurs ostensibly standing between the self-proclaimed paranormal intelligentsia and the silver platter of peer-reviewed, rational explanations to which - by virtue of their mighty brains and highly advanced powers of discernment - they are supremely entitled.

Yeah, you, over there peeking through the drawn blinds and dirty window.  Yap-yap-yapping your half-assed Theory of Not-This and Not-That like a scroungy toothless dog, traumatized and wary, chained to a sad old car that hasn't left the driveway since its owner defaulted on the student loan.

Opining on the nature of The Enigma is not unlike walking through a locally renowned minefield laid in a long forgotten war.  Stick to the narrow, well-worn path, the one hard and barren like cement, enveloped by a thriving forest, and Nobody Gets Hurt.  It gets you from Point A to Point B, unscathed, every time.  If that's your objective, you're exactly where you need to be.  But you know that already. 

If safety is your mission in life, learning isn't.  Knowledge is intrinsically dangerous.  It upsets apple carts.  Your apple cart.

Declaring "No one knows a damn thing," is extremely unlikely to result in any loss of social capital, much less capital capital.  The inference - as increasing numbers of people are discovering each day - is that anyone who claims otherwise is lying, delusional, gullible, stupid or any combination thereof.  In less polite company - pretty much any public online venue - people will just come right out and say it.

How wonderful it must be to know what every person on the planet knows and doesn't know, even if that knowledge is confined solely to what every person on the planet knows and doesn't know about UFOs and their associated intelligences.   Let us bow to the awesomeness of your omniscient powers of perception, oh Great Podcasters, Bloggers, Undergrads, Professors, Bureaucrats and Insightful YouTube Commenters.  How do you do it?  Factually, no doubt.  You wouldn't have it any other way, right?

Relentlessly harping and carping on the pathetic state of ufology - in lieu of actively seeking relevant personal experience - contributes less than nothing.  Reductive speculation, in and of itself, does not fill the void.  Attempting complex equations using only subtraction eventually collapses the floor beneath one's feet, and when that happens, there will be no one else to blame.  There never is.

As in every other aspect of life, there are frauds.  Fear mongers.  Narcissists.  Greed heads.  Racists.  Militarists.  Individuals and institutions eager to exploit whatever biases  we cling to like flotsam in a vast, capricious sea.  You were expecting an exemption for your areas of interest?  Epic fail.  Try again. 

Is this all there is?  Hucksters?  Idiots?  Crazies?  Smart asses like me?  Of course not.  But don't expect to find The Truth™ in a PDF.  It ain't gonna happen.

Do you see what I'm getting at here?  No one is "ruining ufology" except the spoiler in the mirror.

Proof is a sucker's game.   How can you not understand this?  Stop thinking solely with your brain.  It is not the Alpha and Omega of understanding.  The terror of being wrong keeps you exactly where you are right now.  If you aren't willing to stumble and fall and get up and do it all over again, you will depart this life without ever having learned to walk. 

But don't listen to me.  Why should you?  Go build a case.  Stack "the facts" like the overpriced, interlocking bricks sold at Home Depot.  Make this or that declaration about what they represent.  When you make your closing statement that no one else could possibly know more than what you know,  the only proof you will have provided is the relationship between hubris and blindness.

Recognizing the distinction between an event and an interpretation is extremely important, but the utility of such  awareness vanishes like a stone sinking in muddy water when we fail to appreciate our interpretations are not immutable.  Allowing oneself the freedom required for self-cultivation - the freedom to fail, the humility to recognize personal failings and the fortitude to overcome them or, at least, try to overcome them - will bring one's interpretations closer to what they truly represent.  Interpretations do not self-correct any more than you or I self-correct; but they do co-evolve with personal development.

The language of UFO phenomena is experiential.  This is why Contact, for those who venture into the deep waters of The Enigma, does not come as an option.  Are you ready for it?  If all you see and imagine are demons and monsters, the answer - until you can begin to question why you cannot see and imagine beyond them  - is an unequivocal No.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

HEAD TONES: Chris Whitley

Music is an extremely important part of my life. Given the grim choice between losing my sight or my hearing, I would probably choose to keep my hearing even though I'm a visual artist.  My musical tastes run wide and deep, though I'm partial to (a.) singer-songwriters, (b.) guitar slingers who don't wear Spandex and (c.) real jazz.  When not attending a live music performance at Dan's Silver Leaf, I'm either looking forward to a show or regretting one I've missed.  If none of those things are commanding my attention, I'm going through some crisis or another.  Depression, I think it's called.

Sure, I could create a separate blog about music - or, for that matter, depression - but what's the point in segregating topics?  Oh, that's right.  Monetization.  How could I have forgotten. I'll just stick winging it and not maximizing profit [understatement].

Besides, this way, I'll reduce the number of times I'm required to break it anyone how weird I am.  That's not a self-pity trip.  See, people who either (a.) don't understand they are, in fact, weird as hell, or (b.) know very well they're weird as hell and use every lame ass trick in the book to act "normal" - those are the ones I advise backing away from ever so diplomatically.  They are, apart from natural disasters, responsible for the overwhelming degree of misery in this world, and, probably, most others.  In the words of Frank Zappa, You Are What You Is.

Maybe I'm just attempting to rationalize my appalling organizational skills, but I don't live in staggered rows of compartmentalized obsessions, and do not intend on starting now. My life is not a tapas bar.  It's a spaghetti bowl with a single 100-yard pasta strand and a dozen or so sauces.

If you don't like music, or you only like whatever atrocious or moderately atrocious music you were drawn to when you were young and not terribly bright (don't pat yourself on the back too much; everybody gets lucky), I will forgive you for not developing much affection for my Skyward musings. That doesn't mean I'll buy you a whiskey or pick up the check for our lovely Thai dinner at Andaman, but you can die having been forgiven for your music, and thus, character, deficiencies.  Forgiven only by me, but, still, it's something.

I'll kick off my HEAD TONES series with someone very near and dear to my calcified, semi-necrotic, underconditioned and somehow-still-beating (and let me check; yes, still bleeding) heart. Chris Whitley. A masterful artist who never got his due, and never needed acclaim as a precondition for revealing his greatness.

Fans have their favorites.  These are mine.

Blues purists and guitar slingers lean toward his earlier work.

Some musician friends - workmates, really - turned me on to Terra Incognita when it was released.  The cover art, with its rich jewel tones and wry humor, conveyed the passion, originality and authenticity of the music to come.

The greatest pleasures, for me, are most often acquired tastes.  Terra Incognita refused to go all the way on a first date.  Or the second.  Or the third.  The damn thing made me work for it, and, even then, seemed impervious to my attention.  I must have played it twenty times before I finally started getting it, and it me.  I'm crazy like that.

Soon thereafter, Chris played Caravan of Dreams in Fort Worth.  I was violently ill that night and heartsick to have missed him.  I gave my ticket to one of the guys who introduced me to his music, and he ended up selling it to a stranger at face value (which is good, because I loathe ticket scalping) to a stranger.   I hope the stranger enjoyed the show as much as I would have. My workmates said it was magic.

If there exists a more beautiful album than Chris Whitley's final work, Rocket House, I'm not sure my heart could bear it.  It is impossible to listen to it without believing some part of Chris foresaw his premature mortality.  Everything I've read suggests he had no such conscious knowledge of his impending departure when the songs were written and recorded.  Five weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer, Chris Whitley died on November 20, 2005.

Terra Incognita
and Rocket House each carry overt and covert alien contact themes, with various degrees of ambiguity, complete with a deeply resonant spiritual context.  Each of these albums (yes, albums, as in a collection of songs released as a project; maybe you've heard of those?) have moved me to tears more than once.  (Real men human beings aren't afraid to cry, or admit it - even to heartless, soulless automatons. Not that you are.)  These two works, each of which I obtained well before embarking on the current marathon, are perfect soundtracks for my own Contact experiences and the spiritual perspective they yielded on this side of my new paradigm.

Go ahead and call it projection. I don't care. It isn't.

Rocket House is the single most indispensable album I hope never to live without, and I have a few.  Chris and DJ Logic created a wholly unique sound that is neither urban nor rural, is exotic yet familiar and emanates joy and melancholia simultaneously.  I had not heard such sounds before and never will again.  A floating, grooving, rhythmic masterpiece that soars, dives and ascends into the clouds like the hawks I watch from my backyard.  It is a work of timeless, breathtaking, soul-stirring beauty.

I've never anticipated a documentary so eagerly as Dust Radio: A Film About Chris Whitley. At the time of this writing, it is currently in post-production.

One of the things I enjoy about middle age - let's not quibble; I could live to see 98 - is knowing everything manifests in patterns and cycles. Discovery. Routine. Stasis. Loss. Familial engagement. Self-awareness. And so on. Discerning them is a life's work, and given the macrocosmic and microcosmic nature of every Life, it will forever be an incomplete study.

Given my affection for Chris Whitley, I've been waiting for his daughter, Trixie Whitley, to cross the threshold and become the artist I've long suspected - known, really, like many of her father's admirers - she would become.  That wait is over.

Today, I learned Trixie Whitley has teamed up with heavy-hitters Daniel Lanois, Brian Blade and Daryl Johnson to form Black Dub:

I so hope to get a chance to see them perform.   You never know how often those opportunities will come along.  Or if you'll get more than one.